Thursday, May 24, 2018

Democrats Should Choose Norris

Introduction: If Iowa Democrats hope to win the governorship in 2018, their strategy needs to change. Most recently, their presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, carried only 6 of Iowa's 99 counties. In 2014 it was even worse. Their last candidate for governor, Jack Hatch, carried only one county, Johnson -- known to Iowans in the western part of the state as "the People's Republic of Johnson County."

Whoever gets the nod in the Democrats' June 5 primary (or June 16 convention) will have the support of virtually all the state's Democrats, and access to the necessary money, for the general election on November 6. Thus, the issue for Democrats voting in the primary really ought to be, not who can win the primary, but who has the best possibility of winning the general election. Iowans registered as Republicans have an edge over the number of Democrats. But the largest political party by far is the "No Party" party, the independents. Whoever is chosen ought to be able to get the majority of votes from Hillary's 6 counties. The question is who can pile up the most votes in the other 93 counties.

Among the five candidates, my intuition, after a lifetime of politics, is that John Norris would do the best of the five in those 93 counties.

But there is a more powerful reason, almost unrelated to partisan politics, why Democrats Should Choose Norris. And that is the subject of this piece in the Press-Citizen.


Democrats Should Choose Norris

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2018, p. 7A

Why do you make primary choices? How do you choose from six quality governor candidates?

Politically? Win-at-any-cost? Even so, winners of primaries aren’t always best for general elections.

The best fundraiser? Party officer who’s “earned it”? One with most “Elvis”? Youngest? Oldest? Tallest? Best looking?

Looking for comfort, compatibility? Someone your age, gender, socio-economic class, race, religion? Policy positions closest to yours?

Understandable, after this legislative year, for a Democrat to focus on a winning governor and House candidates.

But once they’re there? Being a wise, compassionate, effective, politically savvy, accomplished governor requires very different qualities and skills from those of a winning candidate.

What are they?

For an Iowa governor: someone with whom Iowa farmers are comfortable; experience in the governor's office and Iowa agencies; party leadership; understanding Iowa's relationship to federal government, international markets and organizations

By these standards? It’s John Norris, hands down. He was a fifth-generation farm boy in southwest Iowa; been chief of staff to an Iowa governor, federal cabinet member, and congressman; chair of Iowa's Utilities Board and Iowa Democratic Party; presidential appointee to federal and United Nations' agencies; worked with a U.S. senator. Experienced at winning, and one fine guy.

Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City

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